Iowa football downs Nevada, 27-0, in near-seven-hour game

Three lightning delays pushed the Hawkeyes’ matchup with the Wolf Pack to an early Sunday morning finish.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa running back Kaleb Johnson runs the ball during a football game between Iowa and Nevada at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. Johnson scored a touchdown on the play.

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

Fans got their first taste of Big Ten football “after dark” Saturday night. Before USC and UCLA even get a  chance to join the conference in 2024, Iowa football gave spectators a game that stretched well into Sunday morning.

The opening kick of Saturday’s Iowa-Nevada game was recorded at 6:40 p.m. As the final seconds of the game ticked away at 1:40 a.m., the Hawkeyes clinched a 27-0 win. 

All told, Iowa’s Week 3 matchup with Nevada took about seven hours to complete. The Hawkeyes and Wolf Pack sat through three separate lightning delays.

The first of the delays came with just over 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter at 8:47 p.m. The last delay began at 11:57 p.m.

NCAA rules mandate play be stopped for at least 30 minutes every time lightning is detected within eight miles of the host venue. Each additional strike resets the 30-minute delay clock.

Iowa did its stadium entrance to AC/DC’s “Back in Black” on four separate occasions. Every time the Hawkeyes took the field at Kinnick Stadium, they did so in typical swarm fashion, locked hand-in-hand across five single-file lines.

Iowa fought through the rain for almost all of its matchup with Nevada. The only time the Hawkeyes were on the field and not getting rained on was when they took the field after the third and final delay.

“It was a long, long mental battle,” Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean said postgame. “Obviously, just sitting in the locker room for a while. But we all had to stay focused, stay locked in, finish the job that we started.”

The Hawkeyes scored 17 of their 27 points in the first half — before there was any lightning near Kinnick. In two quarters of action Saturday, Iowa scored more points than it did in its first two games combined.

The Hawkeyes gained 337 total yards — 175 through the air and 162 on the ground.

Iowa’s defense, which is ranked sixth in the country, held the Wolf Pack to 151 total yards and 10 first downs.

Hawkeyes score first passing touchdown of 2022 season

Senior quarterback Spencer Petras threw Iowa’s first passing touchdown of the 2022 season with 23 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Petras hit sophomore receiver Arland Bruce for a 21-yard touchdown in the north end zone at Kinnick. The TD was the first Iowa had scored through the air since the 2022 Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.

Petras finished Saturday’s game 14-of-26 for 175 yards, getting a nice boost from wideouts Nico Ragaini and Keagan Johnson. The pair made its season debut against the Wolf Pack. Johnson grabbed two passes for 11 yards, and Ragaini recorded two receptions for 56 yards.

“It was an awesome feeling,” Ragaini said of his return to the field Saturday. “It was tough being on the sideline for the first few weeks watching all your boys go to war and everything and you had to be on the sideline. It isn’t something I’d like to do again, so it felt good to be back with my team today.”

Ragaini added that he was dealing with a fracture in his right foot for the first few weeks of the season. He said it’s usually an eight-week injury and he feels lucky to be back this quickly.

Johnson didn’t finish out the game as a precaution, per Iowa Athletics. Following the third rain delay, Johnson was in street clothes.

With Ragaini and Johnson out in Weeks 1 and 2, Iowa had just two scholarship wide receivers available for its matchups with Iowa State and South Dakota State: Bruce and redshirt freshman Brody Brecht.

The Hawkeyes’ passing offense ranked 127th in the 131-team FBS ahead of its bout with Nevada. Iowa was rated last in the nation in total offense before it took the field Saturday.

Kaleb Johnson scores first career touchdown

True freshman running back Kaleb Johnson scored his first collegiate touchdown Saturday. With 4:36 left in the first quarter, Johnson took a handoff from Petras out of the shotgun. From there, he ran straight up the middle of the field before ultimately breaking toward the corner of the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown.

Kaleb Johnson’s scamper came with some help from the Hawkeyes’ defense and special teams, which gave Iowa’s offense the ball at the 40-yard line. Johnson’s TD was just the second play of the drive.

Kaleb Johnson followed his first quarter touchdown with another in the fourth quarter. Johnson took another handoff from Petras toward, but instead of running up the middle, he broke it outside. Johnson then sprinted up the west sideline for a 55-yard touchdown.

“He’s got a real good attitude,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said of Johnson. “He’s got a little energy to him that’s fun … It was good to see him run with confidence today. He got a little bit of daylight and knew what to do with that.”

Kaleb Johnson’s two runs accounted for over half of the rushing yards the Hawkeyes amassed on the day. Iowa finished the game with 4.6 yards per rush.

Big Picture

Iowa is now 2-1 on the season with wins over Nevada and South Dakota State. Iowa State handed Iowa its lone loss of the season during Week 2, snapping the Hawkeyes’ six-game Cy-Hawk winning streak.

The Hawkeyes’ 27 points is the most they’ve scored since Nov. 26, 2021, when they beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 28-21.

Up next

Iowa will start Big Ten play next week in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Iowa will take on Rutgers at 6 p.m. at SHI Stadium on Sept. 24. The following week, the Hawkeyes will return home for a matchup with the Michigan Wolverines.